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Press briefing note in Yemen and Iran

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Rupert Colville
Location: Geneva
Date: 10 February 2017
Subject: (1) Yemen(2) Iran

(1) Yemen

Extremely worrying reports have emerged about the impact on civilians of the fighting over the past two weeks, in the southwestern port of Al Mokha in Taizz Governorate. Credible reports indicate that civilians were caught in an intolerable situation between warring parties giving them opposing instructions. The Popular Committees Affiliated with the Houthis and their allies warned civilians not to leave their homes while pro-Government and Coalition forces were demanding that they evacuate. Credible reports indicate that Houthi-affiliated snipers shot at families attempting to flee their homes in Houthi-controlled areas – suggesting the use of civilians as human shields.

“Civilians were trapped and targeted during the Al Mokha fighting. There are real fears that the situation will repeat itself in the port of Al Hudaidah, to the north of Al Mokha, where air strikes are already intensifying,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said. “The already catastrophic humanitarian situation in the country could spiral further downwards if Al Hudaidah port – a key entry point for imports into Yemen – is seriously damaged.”

The full press release issued Friday morning in Geneva by the High Commissioner is at: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=21163&LangID=E

(2) Iran

We welcome reports that Iran has suspended the execution of a juvenile in the wake of recent appeals by the High Commissioner, the Secretary General and Special Rapporteurs. We also welcome reports that this week Iran commuted the death sentences against six juvenile offenders.

Our Office nevertheless remains concerned regarding another juvenile, Hamid Ahmadi, who  was 17 years old when he was sentenced to death for the fatal stabbing in 2008 of a young man during a fight. The court relied on confessions allegedly obtained under torture while Mr Ahmadi was at a police station and denied access to a lawyer and his family, in violation of international guarantees of fair trial and due process. 

Mr. Ahmadi’s execution had been set for this Saturday 11 February but we now have reports that it has been delayed for 10 days.  This is the latest occasion that Mr Ahmadi’s sentence has been postponed. A group of Special Rapporteurs and the Chair of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child earlier this month appealed to Iran to halt his execution, then scheduled for 4 February.

We renew our call for Iran to halt the application of the death penalty to people who committed crimes when they were children. The High Commissioner will be contacting the Iranian authorities regarding Mr Ahmadi, who reportedly remains in solitary confinement.

We also once again urge Iran to immediately institute a moratorium on the death penalty, amid serious concerns about the high number of executions since the beginning of the year.


For more information and media requests, please contact Rupert Colville (+41 22 917 9767 / rcolville@ohchr.org) or Ravina Shamdasani (+41 22 917 9169 / rshamdasani@ohchr.org ) or Liz Throssell  ( +41 22 917 9466/ethrossell@ohchr.org )

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